The ideal social media image. Sure, you may say, "Well, not me, I don't care how I look." But maybe you looked at a picture you took or looked in the mirror for a split second and didn't like what you saw. There has always been an underlying pressure to do better than others or to obtain a certain body type. We have the predisposition to display our best selves to everyone or be "Perfect" to everyone but ourselves. With so many diet culture posts floating around social media, it's become a recipe for disaster.
This has only increased as a result of the pandemic, which has made many individuals stay at home and be online. With social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram, this mentality is increasingly being pushed upon younger audiences. You can't even browse through your “For You” page without seeing a new trend that amplifies your own perspective insecurity.
There has been an influx of trends that appeal to our bodies and the way we appear on TikTok alone — from the numerous "health professionals" and weight loss accounts, with ladies disclosing their "secrets" to losing weight [when all they really want to do is sell you their products] and to the not-so-subtle influencers who post about how to get rid of your FUPA or your hip dips, not to mention the huge BBL’s epidemic a year ago. “For You” pages are loaded with people attempting to convince you that what you have is unattractive and that you should change your appearance or clothes to cover those "flaws." There hasn't been a day when I haven't seen a video in which a girl talks about how she dropped weight in two months just from fasting.
Beauty trends are nothing new; in fact, it seems like a new one emerges every year. Take the nose jobs and BBLs of 2021 as examples. According to Tiktok, "heroin chic" or being very skinny is back in. This trend is commonly seen among celebrities such as the Kardashians, who have been said to have had their BBLs removed as well as shedding a significant amount of weight in addition to this plastic surgery that has been making the rounds on social media called " buccal fat removal," in which they remove the buccal fat or fat pads and it makes your face look more chiseled and slender. Not only that but there have been many mirco trends that have been clearly catered to what the internet believes is beautiful such as " what kind of pretty are you ?" or how to get Siren/doe eyes," it's even being pushed through manifestation videos with " interact 4x to get a flat stomach or perfect teeth". There is an underlying fascination with beauty and wanting to be viewed as what the internet tells you is attractive, and while there are those who try to combat this by discussing the "reality of the internet. They are no match for the Tiktok algorithm's capabilities.
Over 60% of “Diet” or “ Nutrition” videos were created by women, and more than half were made by users in their teens or college students. So many of them project this lifestyle onto young girls who lack the media literacy to recognize how harmful it is to their self-esteem. Just a few years ago, there was a trend where girls would tighten their shirts to highlight their small waists and since then, more and more fads continue to emerge to show off their bodies, such as the current trend of dressing your mom in your clothing.
But TikTok isn't the only platform where this is happening; every platform has a community. For example, one community known as Pro ED communities uses Twitter to further its agendas. Many users on "Edtwt" generate posts like "Fatspho" and "Skinnyspo," where they capture images or TikToks of women who are overweight, or very underweight, to upload them in a thread so others may receive "inspiration" to become skinny.
While the #edrecovery posts were inspirational and were intended to showcase their progress in getting healthier, they had some unintended consequences. Some girls are unaware that writing stuff like " I used to just eat one meal a day", "I only ate gum" or "I fasted and lost 10 pounds in a week” are actually giving ideas for others to try the same thing.
Tiktok and Instagram have both attempted to take action in order to reduce the flood of these sorts of videos. If you search for Eating Disorders in Tiktok's search box, you'll be given a hotline number where you may speak with someone. But how can that put an end to the subtle videos? People aren't going to come out and admit they have an eating problem or go looking for one. There is a need for more of a push on their side.
Wanting to lose weight and talking about exercises and your weight loss experiences isn't a bad thing – in fact, it's very much welcomed that these individuals talk about their routines to aid those who are looking for help but are inexperienced. Some individuals just seek inspiration to begin. But when you start saying things like " I dropped 10 kgs just drinking this drink and no exercise" and start recommending a real diabetic drug to help people lose weight quicker, rather than doing further research and taking proper supplements, when things become misconstrued.
It's a terrible reality to face. Body dysmorphia, and other insecurities about self-image, creates a never-ending cycle of nitpicking at yourself. We know these things are bad, and yet we just can’t help it.
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